How does one celebrate their first ever Grand Slam of Curling win?
For Team Bottcher third and Lacombe resident Darren Moulding, one of his first acts upon returning to the community was to visit with students at Lacombe Junior High School.
Last Wednesday, students were given the opportunity to learn about and from Moulding, who aside from now being a championship-winning curler, is also an ice maker for both the Lacombe and Bentley rinks.
He said it was his third time in the past three years speaking to students, and hopefully giving them that spark of inspiration to chase their own goals.
“It’s always been something I’ve been interested in. I love passing along my knowledge, whether it’s at work or as a curler. If I can do something to give somebody that extra boost to chase or do something that excites them, that’s what I’m looking for,” he said. “I’m appreciative of the chance to get to do stuff like this. I’m proud that I can represent Lacombe and it’s important to me to be a part of the community.”
After an undefeated week at the Meridian Canadian Open with his team, the community can be just as proud of him.
Qualifying through the A-side and defeating Team Brad Jacobs and Team Brad Gushue, his team lay claim to the title in a 6-3 victory over Team John Epping. They broke a tie in the sixth end, with Bottcher curling past the guard to narrowly edge out Epping and ultimately win the Meridian Canadian Open.
The win secured their position as the fourth ranked curling team in the world.
“For us, it has just been old-fashioned hard work and team chemistry,” Moulding said. “I know it sounds cliché and everyone says that, but I’ve heard from other people that we’re the only team who really gets it.
“There’s probably others, but I know that having four guys all supporting each other and working hard is a big asset and the key to our success.”
Moulding first got involved with Team Bottcher mid-season in 2016, when their then-third, Pat Simmons, stepped away from curling due to injury.
“I was the shiniest piece of meal on the top of the scrap heap,” he joked. “They phoned me out of the blue, and I jumped on the opportunity.”
Despite a less-than ideal appearance in Newfoundland in 2017 where the team finished 10th with a 3-8 record, they made it to the Brier final last year where they lost 6-4 to Team Gushue, and it’s been a positive climb since then, starting from 20th in the world, to just outside the top three.
“We’re really close now,” said Moulding. “I think we just have to keep improving at the rate we’re improving, which is faster than everybody else and get ourselves to the point where we’re not just one of the best teams but the best team.
“It’s a motivating factor for our team, especially now that we’ve started winning. You get some confidence, and we feel like we can do it now, that it’s possible.”
The win came with a $30,000 purse, not to mention the team’s qualification in the Humpty’s Champions Cup in April.
Long-term, the team would like to secure a spot at the Olympic Winter Games, but for right now, they’re focused on what lies ahead, including provincials Feb. 6-10 in Ellerslie, and then a hopeful appearance at the Brier in March.